Transcript

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity

Jac: Lynley, you grew up on the North Shore is that right?

Lynley: Yes, yes, before the Harbour Bridge was built. Yup, 1950s.

Jac: Can you tell us a bit about that time and how it was for you as a child growing up on that side of Auckland?

Lynley: It was wonderful. Lots and lots of free land for us to roam and play all sorts of games. At the end of our street there was a really really big mountain of earth, huge mountain of earth, we called it the mountain. And quite often we’d put in our cricket wickets at the bottom of the mountain and we would play for hours, cricket up and down the street. Usually one side of the street against the other side of the street. It was a load of fun, it was really really great. Very little traffic. The buses ran usually to, the people, their timetable as opposed to a bus timetable. Good old Birkenhead Transport. Everybody knew everybody else, it was incredible, it was great.

Jac: Who was in your family?

Lynley: I’ve got two older brothers. Quite older than me, seven and six years older than me. I was a surprise and I continued my whole childhood as a surprise (laughs).

Jac: In what way?

Lynley: If I wanted to know something, if I wanted to be told about something, if something was puzzling me, I would keep on and on and I would know if I was being fobbed off by Mum or by Dad. The best one was my grandmother who lived with us for a number of years before she passed on, good Lancashire lass, I think some of her genes have rubbed off on to me because she was a dancer pre- World War One, she was a dancer in various theatres in London. She just loved life and I think I actually carry a lot of her genes in me.

Jac: Are you a dancer?

Lynley: I have been a dancer. Many many years ago my mother taught ballroom dancing and so she held classes in the local church hall. Again, small area, everybody who had a skill, it was offered to the whole community and we used to have dances in the church hall.

Jac: So that’s where you learnt to ballroom dance? Did you learn to lead or follow?

Lynley: Quite often there wouldn’t be enough boys and so, yep, I led.

Jac: And how was that?

Lynley: But not by example (laughs). It was good, it just seemed natural. It was just totally natural because my mother was leading, she was teaching so she was leading, so that was normal.

Jac: How long into your life were you dancing?

Lynley: Until I discovered cricket. Back in the ‘60s I discovered there were women’s teams on the North Shore. West Lake High School had a very very good cricket team. I didn’t go to that school. And so the dancing went out. I was only doing it because mother would like me to be there. That was the only reasons I went dancing, no, I discovered cricket and other things.

Jac: How far did you go with the cricket?

Lynley: Some way. North Shore, we could have to travel over to the city to play against other teams. I was selected once for the Rose Bowl Competition but lack of funds we couldn’t travel anywhere. One or two of my close friends and I’m still, you know, in contact with them were selected for the women’s team back in ’67 or ’68 to travel to England and they went by ship.

Jac: Did you go?

Lynley: No (laughs)

Jac: Was it unusual for women to be playing cricket in those days?

Lynley: Once you were in it, no. Both my brothers played cricket and I got to hear of it. It was one of my brother’s friends, his sister played and I got to hear of it, and it was Carol who was selected and went overseas. There were a few of them. Even Karen Plummer went I think, that’s a name that should ring some bells for a few people. But no, it was great. And most of the women who actually played cricket, also played hockey in the Winter. I played once. That ball just travelled right up the hockey stick and went into my nose and broke it and I never went back after that (laughs). You can get all sorts of bruises and bumps and what have you from a cricket ball but that was just bang, no thanks, not for me.

Jac: So you were sporty as a young person, and as a young adult.

Lynley: Yes. I still played cricket after my sons were born. That was my time. And it was ok to have that. I just felt ‘why the heck can’t I?’. Just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, it was great.

Jac: Was that in Auckland?

Lynley: Yeh, again on the North Shore. I was married and had the two boys. The boys loved to come with me because, you know, they were fussed over and taken for jaunts up to the dairy to get an ice block.

Jac: How long were you married for?

Lynley: About 10, 12 years. I had the boys, we had been married about seven years and yea, things sort of turned to custard. Made me look and made me search so I although I was moving away from a situation that was a little bit violent, having that opportunity to also look at two ways I could go and I went and accepted myself as a lesbian woman. Had two really really horrid experiences and went back into the close for a number of years after that. But when I moved to Wellington in the ‘90s I knew then because this is like, lesbian fest, especially in the Public Service. This is, you know, oh, and if you don’t look at it and think ‘ok time out, think it through’. Yeh, it fits, I fit, I’m happy. Totally.

Jac: So how did you come out in Wellington? Who did you meet up with?

Lynley: We’ve often talked about it, and laughed about it. But we, Linda and I tell people who ask “how did you meet?”, we say “we were in media studies together”. She advertised in the paper and I saw it (laughs) and we’ve literally been together ever since, 18 years.

Jac: And that was in the personal ads?

Lynley: It used to be the local paper, the Contact. It was under Alternative Lifestyles. (Laughs). Yea, it was really funny because I wasn't looking. I went home on a Friday night and I was sitting down and I just opened the local paper and her ad just boom as if nothing else was on the paper, it was just that. And I thought ‘oh what the hell, it can’t hurt’. Gave her a ring and left a message. She replied on that Sunday night and we met up about a week later and it’s been 18 years of absolute ups and downs and whatever but it’s been incredible, incredible.

Jac: Tell me about ‘incredible’.

Lynley: Allowing oneself to go that extra mile within, having the trust, unconditional love, totally unconditional love. We both had to learn, we both had to discuss and we had our moments. But all through that, I think having the support within Linda’s family, amazing, an amazing family. I’ve been really really fortunate in finding Linda and she says the same, yea.

Jac: How was the support from your family?

Lynley: When I told my oldest brother, his wife, they were both together and I told him and Marilyn said ‘well, its about time’ and Mike was just ‘oh, what do you want me to do or say?’. I just said ‘absolutely nothing, I’m just telling you, letting you know that this is who I am’. ‘Oh, yea, yea, I’ll sit on that one’. And he’s been fine, he’s absolutely fine. My other brother doesn’t speak to me but it’s sad but I respect him for it, you know, if he can’t or doesn’t want to look into something then yea, it’s just what he is. But I love him dearly, I’ll always love him but, you know, it’s just the way it is. You can’t do anything.

Jac: Did you have an inkling when you were young?

Lynley: Yes. I didn't know what it was. As I put in my little piece for the photoshoot, the family next door to us they were Catholics, they had six or seven children and there was one in particular who, I thought she was just amazing. I didn’t connect it until a few years down the track but she was butch, and even 40, 50 years later she is still very butch (laughs).

Jac: You ran into her recently, is that right?

Lynley: I tracked her down, I tracked her down. Because my boys live in Whangaparoa, we quite often stay in a motel in Orewa and I knew that she had moved to Orewa and so I just looked it up in the phonebook and in fact we were only about five or six houses away in the motel from where she lived. And so it was awesome to go and see her. And, yea, she’s just the same, maybe even a bit more shorter. She used to say that she was five foot and a quarter (laughs).

Jac: What made her stand out for you when you were young?

Lynley: A, her job. She delivered in a little Morrie van, motorcar parts and she was really really family orientated. She was always there for her Mum. And I’d sort of see her especially in the school holidays and she’d be out coming up the path ‘hello mate, you want to come out with me this afternoon?’, ‘yea, yea, yea, yea, yea’, and you know, I would go out with her and sit in the car and we would talk about anything and everything but I couldn’t put a pin on it, I can’t actually even now. It was just something that I knew deep down, I knew and time will tell. Because my mother would sort of say ‘oh did you go out with her again?’ and I’d go ‘yea, it was neat fun. We went here, there and everywhere’ and she’d go ‘you’ll have to stop doing that’ and I just sort of held it in ‘no I won’t, no I won’t’.

Jac: So you liked her, there was something about her that was appealing rather than an attraction as such?

Lynley: An attraction, yea. A kind of inner knowing that I’m going to be like that. I’m talking about an 8 or 9 year old. You’ve got to remember, I was an inquisitive kid, if I couldn’t get what I thought was an honest answer, I pushed and pushed until I did.

Jac: How old was she?

Lynley: She would have been in her ‘20s.The amazing thing, I would watch her come home after work, and obviously her partner at the time, and they lived in that house, you know, their own bedroom in that house, for a Roman Catholic family, totally and utterly accepted. See, so all of that was at the back of my mind. Because I could hear others go ‘oh there they go’ or my brothers would say something derogatory and I’d go ‘oh’ but I didn’t know why I was feeling ‘oh’ when they’d say things like that. I didn’t know all the puzzle but it was quite quickly when I got old enough for the pieces to fall in.

Jac: And when you met up with her again did you talk about how it was for you when you were both young?

Lynley: Yea. She said, and I’ve just remembered, which relates to what you now call Butch on Butch, BOB, her older brother used to call me Bob (laughs). So yea, I think they did recognise it because the other girls in the street would be given dolls. My father made the most wonderful dolls house for me, it had electric lights and everything. I never played with it, I wanted a cap gun or roman sandals. Happiest in t-shirt and shorts.

Jac: In the narrative that you wrote for the exhibition you told this beautiful story about wearing a tie to go see your doctor. Can you tell us that story again?

Lynley: I had to go down to see Doctor D and I had not long started at the intermediate school and I loved it because you had a white shirt but you had a dark red tie. And so I was all set to go onto school after the doctor visit. And so I walked in to his room, and he was always sitting behind his desk, and he looked up and he said ‘who tied your tie?’ ‘I did’ . Goes to the door, opens it, calls out to the nurse ‘set up a few bandages, would you?’. So we go down to the dressing room and he showed me how to ties the perfect windsor knot and the double windsor knot tie and we didn’t finish until I had a decent looking tie. And I loved ties back then I love them now. And there’s nothing worse than seeing, even the guys on TV, I can’t help it I look at their tie and I go ‘ooh he doesn’t know how to do it’. (Laughs).

Jac: I saw you when I first started working here, because we work at the same place, and I’ve seen you in your tie and your waistcoat and you look fantastic and you stand out in this place even though the Public Service is full of lesbians like you say. Do you find yourself comfortable in this work environment?

Lynley: Totally. I guess I’m luckier than most because my work is IT and so I can get away with wearing polo shirts, shirts with a tie. In fact what you’ve raised on clothing, public servants, when I first started back in the ‘90s down here, you could tell a public servant a mile off, black and white, white shirt, white tops, black trousers, black skirt. But now the guys don’t wear ties, they wear polo shirts, they wear just about anything. It’s changed. And so as I’ve gotten more comfortable so has the way I dress. I feel comfortable to be who I am and what I wear. That’s pretty much it.

Jac: That’s a nice place to get to eh?

Lynley: It is, it is. I mean Hallensteins have had fantastic sales on polo shirts (laughs). Polo shirts with button down collars, wonderful, totally.

Jac: Thanks Lynley, is there anything that you want to add?

Lynley: There is something that I would like to mention. In fact, I’m quite proud of. I worked for the Auckland Stock Exchange back in about 1968, 69 and they had the call over system then and that’s where the stockbrokers would all come into the room and sit at desks and the session was opened, transactions and shares were completed and then it was closed. Well, Auckland Stock Exchange went ahead and bought their own building and they went to the Stock Board and I was the first chalky and the first woman on a Stock Exchange floor in New Zealand. I was interviewed for Women’s Weekly, it was incredible. The building was opened by Robert Muldoon, god love him, and yea, I often wondered if they kept those records.

Jac: I’ve seen the photo, you look very glam in your skirt.

Lynley: That’s the one, that is the one, yes indeed, I did wear high heels and stockings and makeup.

Jac: How did that feel?

Lynley: It just felt normal. It’s only in the last five or six years that I’ve stopped wearing makeup. I don’t know alot of the makeup just irritates and flares up especially eye makeup around my eyes so that’s the reason I just stopped wearing it. Yep, lipstick lesbian, I was.

Citation information

URL:http://www.pridenz.com/butch_on_butch_lynley_transcript.html
Record date:19th March 2015
Location:Wellington
Interviewer:Jac Lynch
Transcription:Jac Lynch
Copyright:PrideNZ.com